THIRTY-EIGHT OPE ACTIONS
Access: Ensuring All Students Are Prepared to Go to College and Succeed
- OPE should increase its emphasis on K-16 programs (such as GEAR UP and TRIO) that encourage students to think early about college, take the right classes, and begin financial planning. Through partnerships at the local level and partnerships with foundations and businesses we can leverage federal dollars much more effectively. The more these partnerships focus on systemic change, the greater the effect.
- OPE should consider initiatives that bring technology more quickly and pervasively to postsecondary institutions that serve underserved populations, perhaps through our Institutional Development programs.
- OPE should pay far more attention to graduate education and international education than it has in the past.
- OPE should advocate for research on the value of software and technology based learning for postsecondary students with disabilities, in particular for students with learning disabilities.
- OPE should work with accreditation bodies and federal entities with governance authority regarding the ADA and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.
- OPE should convene meetings with leaders in postsecondary schools who are knowledgeable about students with disabilities and can make recommendations regarding a seamless K-16 system for students.
Access: Examining the Roles and Responsibilities in Paying for College (see also Twelve Strategies for the New Environment)
- The U.S. Department of Education should lead a dialogue on how to pay for college. College presidents, leaders in national and state governments, students, economists, and business and community leaders should discuss how all the partners could share in helping to make college accessible for Americans from all groups. This examination and analysis should provide a road map for change in the next decade.
Questions to be addressed should include: Should there be options for free public postsecondary education? If not, what should students and parents pay? How much should states and the federal government pay? What are the likely financial resources to be available to states and the federal government? How does this interact with expected demand, including increased demand from groups who are likely to be less well prepared? What is the role for private sources? What is the mix of aidhow do institutional subsidies, grants to students, loans, and tax policy interact? What is the appropriate balance among different sources of aid? How do all these questions and answers vary for different groups of students? What are the intergenerational issues-how do different options affect different generations? Are these the appropriate ways to transfer benefits across generations?
- OPE should create a study group to examine the student aid system and the need analysis system. Its charge would be to design a simplified, easy-to-understand system that reflects the realities of today's education and students and is flexible to meet tomorrow's needs.
This group would look at more detailed and more technical issues than the first group. Simplification would be the overriding goal: easier and earlier determination of need and aid eligibility. A simplified need analysis system-fewer variables, less open to gaming and unintended consequences, easier to understand and file, earlier application dates so students would know their eligibility earlier, adjustments for new modes of educational delivery and new types of students, and new sources of aid, such as tax creditswould be the goal here.
The system for delivering aid should also be examined, particularly the design and delivery of loans. The existence of two major loan programs since 1993-Direct Student loans and FFELhas benefited students by providing them better benefits and service and reduced federal costs. We are at a crossroads, however, where a careful examination and analysis is needed on the future delivery of student loans. Income-contingent repayment (ICR) and the specific formula being used also need reexamination.
- The Department of Education should mount a major public information campaign with its partners to ensure that all Americans know what college opportunities are available, how much they cost, and what aid is available to meet the costs.
Despite the fact that much information is already available to students and families, many Americans are quite uninformed or have misconceptions about the true opportunities. The need for more public awareness to ensure that families know the real facts about college prices and student financial aid was raised many times in Agenda Project sessions. This information needs to be broadly available, especially to more at-risk students in the middle school years when they are making key choices about what classes to take, decisions that will affect their chances of college success in future years.
- OPE should examine the role of student loans in helping families to pay for college and the effects of debt burden on students' decisions about whether and where to go on to postsecondary education, and on their choices after leaving school regarding careers and graduate education. This effort should examine the effectiveness of different repayment options, including income-contingent repayment, and other alternatives, such as loan forgiveness. Possible options for changes in the next reauthorization of the Higher Education Act should be considered.
- OPE should undertake a major effort to encourage lifelong learning, including an examination of what is occurring now and what the barriers are to more lifelong learning. This effort should look at administrative, regulatory, and statutory barriers.
- OPE, together with its partners in postsecondary education and industry, should mount a major effort to examine the complex requirements now surrounding the student aid programs. The effort should examine ways to reduce requirements and increase flexibility to deal with new student demands and technologies while continuing to ensure accountability for taxpayer dollars. This effort should look at administrative, regulatory, and statutory barriers, including recommendations for the next reauthorization.
Improving Teacher Quality
(see also Twelve Strategies for the New Environment)
- OPE should support partnerships among K-12 schools and postsecondary institutions to create comprehensive change in education.
- OPE should work with states to find ways for mid-career professionals to prepare for and enter teaching more easily, while maintaining and raising certification standards.
- OPE should encourage higher education leaders to get involved in teacher preparation reform: the data on subject matter competence of new teachers and student performance on tests with rigorous standards show that the entire university must be behind quality teacher training.
- OPE should work with national organizations and other institutions to facilitate closer integration of teacher colleges with the entire university.
- OPE should gather and disseminate up-to-date information about innovative teacher preparation practices; many institutions have tackled aspects of the quality-teaching puzzle and their work should be identified and publicized widely.
- OPE should convene forums on teacher quality issues at state and regional levels: higher visibility for the core issues of teacher quality will draw state and other leaders into the reform process.
- OPE should develop a broad strategy to attract students into teaching, especially minority students: these students often have strong ties to their community and want to practice their professions in the places where they grew up.
- OPE should provide effective outreach about funding opportunities in OPE, and technical assistance for institutions with limited grant-seeking experience.
- OPE should involve foundations, businesses, states, universities, and other partners in carefully designed efforts to fund comprehensive approaches to teacher quality improvement: federal leadership can bring other important partners to the table and accelerate the pace of change.
- OPE should promote the effective integration of technology into curriculum and instructional practices on the university campus and in the school classroom.
- OPE should consider a grant competition to encourage states, or regional partnerships, to build on some of the creative ideas that are being tried to improve teacher training. Whatever the final form, one goal of the program would be to break down the current barriers that separate the main postsecondary institution from the college of education.
Integrating Technology and Distance Education into the Curriculum
(see also Twelve Strategies for the New Environment)
- OPE should discuss with the community proposals for changes to those Title IV Student Financial Assistance Program requirements that now limit student financial assistance to distance education students.
- OPE should convene discussions of policy matters at the federal and state levels of government with institutions, other postsecondary education providers, and accrediting agencies.
- OPE should initiate discussions related to expanding opportunities for distance education and exchanges using technology internationally.
- OPE should encourage approaches to quality assurance in distance education that include a strong focus on outcomes and competencies.
- OPE should provide information that will assist consumers in locating providers that offer distance education courses and programs that meet standards of acceptable quality.
- OPE should use program resources to assist institutions in developing technical capability.
- OPE should support experimentation with promising new models of educational practice that promote access, meet new needs for education and training, and improve quality.
- OPE should collect and disseminate best practices utilizing a variety of methods. These should include written materials, but should expand to include networks that allow practitioners to engage in discussions online, and at meetings and conferences.
Revitalizing International Education
- OPE should support the increased internationalization of U.S. campuses and undergraduate programs.
- OPE should support the development of models of curriculum integration, language learning, and student mobility that foster cross-national institutional consortia and partnerships; and the dissemination of materials and practices they develop.
- OPE should support improved access to international education programs that increase the number and diversity of students who study and intern abroad; encourage students and institutions to explore non-traditional study abroad opportunities; and remove barriers for studying abroad relating to the recognition, transfer, and portability of academic credit and qualifications.
- OPE should support strengthened foreign language learning at all education levels, including the achievement of literacy in at least two languages; and teacher preparation and professional development.
- OPE should support partnerships with K-12 schools, businesses, governments, and other organizations; and clearinghouses and Web sites for identifying available expertise and national needs.
- OPE should support increased postsecondary study in the U.S. by qualified students from overseas by improving the availability of information about such opportunities; and removing policy and procedural barriers that limit the international flow of students.
- OPE should support enhanced coordination of international education programs within OPE; across the U.S. Department of Education; and among executive branch departments and agencies, international organizations, and education ministries of other nations, in collaboration with the U.S. Department of State.